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Is It Safe to Give Out Your Social Security Number?

Shredder

Originally created way back in the 1930s, social security numbers once served as a system to manage retirement and disability benefits. Nowadays, this unique 9-digit code plays an instrumental role in being able to receive paychecks, get health insurance, and other financial matters. In a lot of ways, it is linked to one’s very identity.

Due to concerns about having their identity stolen, many people have second thoughts about sharing their social security number, and rightfully so. In fact, many services use it as a way to identify their customers. If you were to apply for a loan or a credit card, for example, you’d have to give it out in the process. The same goes for applying to services like Medicaid.

However, you should be wary about who you reveal it to. As a general rule of thumb, never share it over the phone since you can never be completely sure that no one is listening in on your conversation (or that the person at the end of the line is who they claim they are). Due to similar concerns, mentioning it in an email is also not recommended. If you absolutely must, a much safer way to go about it is to divulge the last four digits which should suffice for quick identification purposes in most cases.

Still, the question remains: should you give it out merely to sign a contract or something as trivial as applying for a gym membership? Generally, this shouldn’t be a requirement in the first place, so if you don’t feel comfortable for any reason, you should probably refrain from doing so and simply seek out another provider. Unless you’re living on some remote island, taking your business elsewhere is the simplest and most straightforward solution.

If you value the safety of your personally identifiable information, it’s important to implement the preventative measures necessary to ensure it stays private as well as take a proactive approach to monitor it. Ideally, you should be the first to know if your social security number has been stolen and there are certain signs that you should be on the lookout for, including oddities on your bank statement and social security statement.

It’s best to leave your social security card at home where it’s safe; don’t carry it around unless you absolutely have to. To avoid having it jotted down by dumpster diving thieves, shred any papers it’s written on before throwing them away. In case someone asks you for it, double-check with them if collecting it is truly a necessary part of the process and inquire what measures they have in place to prevent it from slipping into the wrong hands.

In the unfortunate event it does indeed get stolen, do not hesitate to contact the police and file a report with the FTC. It’s a good idea to also visit the official IRS identity theft central to find out what your options are. Technically, the government can issue a new social security number, but since you’re going to have to report it to all of the government bodies like health insurers and financial institutions yourself, it’s likely to be quite a hassle.


More on this topic:

Why Is It Crucial To Obtain Identity Theft Protection?

Why Is It Crucial To Obtain Identity Theft Protection?

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